At this time of year we remember all we have, and think about giving back.Why not volunteer your interestsand meet a few new people as well?Older folks who volunteer get more than they give.A study of seniors who volunteer by Canadas Rotman Research Institute showed that just two hours a week boosts overall health, lessens functional limitations and depression symptoms, and aids longevity.Volunteering is a fun way to get involved and get social.

Its common sense that youre more likely to stick to something that aligns with your interests.Here are a few ideas to get you started.For Science and Nature Fans:Dark Sky International: Our earthly lights have created so much light pollution that, especially in and around big cities, stars are nearly invisible.Worse, the pollution can negatively affect human health and disrupt wildlife.Dark Sky International was created to preserve our once-starry night skies.There are some 70+ chapters worldwide; its easy to find a chapter near you by checking here.

National Parks Service: You can indulge your love of nature via volunteering at the National Park Service.Details are here.Not sure if you want an ongoing commitment? Try volunteering for a special event.

Get details and some event dates here.For Animal LoversThe Humane Society has robust website listing national and local organizations looking for people like you! For instance, they are always looking for volunteers on their animal rescue teams.Volunteers provide direct care to animals in their temporary shelters, including cleaning cages and enclosures, feeding, watering, restocking supplies, washing dishes, walking dogs or socializing them, and other tasks.Interested? Find details here.Of course, you can always check in at a local animal shelter or ASPCA for more opportunities.Got a special talent or passion youd like to share with peers? Want to engage with like minded seniors? Senior Planet has an ongoing need for in-person and online volunteers a great way to meet people and support a nonprofit organization that cares about you! Help greet attendees, assist during classes or host tech or other talks at centers.

Learn more here.Before You Sign UpPeople applying to volunteer most places generally must submit a detailed application, undergo a background check, and provide vaccination status.Groups might also require references and training as part of an onboarding process.You usually will need to commit to a specified number of days/hours as well.

Other Opportunities:There are countless ways to make a difference! In fact theres a huge database at that can help you match your interests with a nonprofit that needs youlike becoming a Volunteer Baby Cuddler at the NICU unit at Brookdale Hospital, or become a phone buddy to a shut-in with Friendly Voices especially if youre bilingual.So this holiday season and beyond get off the sofa, drop the remote and get social and volunteer!YOUR TURNDo you volunteer and how? How do you feel about it? Whats your advice to someone wanting to volunteer? Let us know in the comments!And a special shout out to any Senior Planet volunteers reading this! Were so grateful to you!Nona Aguilar is an award-winning writer of numerous magazine articles and two books.She has also edited four specialty business newsletter publications.Her work has appeared in Ladies Home Journal, Redbook, Family Circle and Cosmopolitan, and in The Business Owner.

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